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CZ.com | Poetics | Journals & Journeys
 

11. Journals & Journeys

     I started my writing life when I was eleven years old, with a diary I named “Secret”. When I was fourteen I renamed my journal “Search for a Soul.” However, into those first diaries (which turned out to be not so secret after all, as one time my brother took and read it, sharing parts of it with my parents—the part about my first kiss on a date) I poured my thoughts and feelings, and recorded the events of my life. While in high school I began writing poetry, and my first published poem was in the High School Annual for my graduating year. That was thirty-three years ago. Now I’ve published eight books of poetry, chapbooks, articles, reviews. The writing life, for me, has consisted of a lifetime of writing and creating a body of work—little did I know at the beginning, when I was given my first diary as a present.

     In the living out of my writing life I have given readings from coast to coast—from Prince Rupert and Victoria, to Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Antigonish and Halifax—plus numerous other places, including many in Ontario and Quebec. I have visited classrooms at all levels, from elementary school, to high school, college and university. I’ve read to audiences of two or two thousand—and everything in between. I’ve been fortunate in being able to perform my writing to students and audiences across the country. In the process, I came to know many different parts of Canada, and to love the country as a whole, not just where I was living. I’ve learned the responsibility that we have as writers, to think further than our individual lives and regions. To think in as worldwide and spiritually expansive terms as possible—as writers for an entire nation, as writers whose work can be translated, and can circulate the globe. Several years ago, when I visited Dalhousie University and was shown my chapbooks, broadsides and books the library had collected, I understood the extent of commitment we need to have, as writers, and how the writing has a life of its own.

     I first visited Montreal in 1978, for the League of Canadian Poets’ Annual General Meeting. F.R. Scott was at that meeting. So was Ken Norris—he and Cathy Ford and myself were the youngest and newest members at that time. I came home with a copy of Michael Harris’s recent book Grace; I was introduced to Artie Gold in his book-filled apartment in the McGill ghetto, and to poets Endre Farkas and Tom Konyves. I returned to Montreal a couple of years later to perform with jazz musician Al Neil. It was during a bus and metro strike, so I arrived from the airport just in time to step on stage. I didn’t come back to Montreal again until I attended a Writers’ Union of Canada conference at John Abbott College, in the spring of 1991. Strangely enough, six months later I moved to Quebec. That was December 6, 1991. I came for the weekend, and I’ve never looked back.

     So, here, now, in Montreal approaching the eve of the millennium, I continue to live the writing life, begun at age eleven in that small, blue diary I still keep in my study. What does it mean, the writing life? It means more than writing one book or reviewing someone else’s book—although it can begin there. For me it has meant a lifelong commitment to the inner life, to expressing the physical and spiritual dimensions of my existence. It means offering one’s ideas, thoughts, feelings, narratives, fictions, poetics to the world at large. It means over the course of a lifetime to affirm, with each act of writing and of making public the writing, that initial “search for a soul”. It means to hold to the humanist belief that through a shared vision, through intimate communication, we can love, reach out to, and sustain one another.

  Carolyn Zonailo
Qwrite, QWF, 1998
Montreal, QC, Canada

Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo: www.carolynzonailo.com, 2004

 
 
CZ.com | Poetics | Journals & Journeys
 
 
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